Remembering the 4 Ghanaians who were killed in the 9/11 attacks
It’s been exactly 18 years since almost 3,000 people including four Ghanaians lost their lives to terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, carried out by some 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda who hijacked and crashed four planes into various targets in the United States.
Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
A grand total of 2,763 people made up of citizens from 78 countries including Ghana died in the attacks. Nearly 6,000 others sustained injuries.
The 4 Ghanaians including two with dual citizenship who lost their lives to the attacks 18 years ago are Emmanuel Akwasi Afuakwah, Victor Kwarkye, Japhet Jesse Aryee and Sophia B. Addo.
Emmanuel Akwasi Afuakwah was born on 15 December 1963, in Ghana. He died at the age of 37. Emmanuel was an employee of the Windows on the World restaurant which was located on the top floor of the North Tower of the original World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan.
Victor Kwarkye was born on September 28, 1965. He died at the age of 35, 17 days to his 36th birthday. He was an employee of the Windows on the World restaurant sited on the North Towers of the World Trade Center.
Japhet Jesse Aryee was born in Ghana on 1 May 1952. He died at the age of 49 leaving behind his wife Maria Engram, a nurse and four children. He was an employee of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. He was working in the World Trade Center’s south tower on the morning of the attack. He held a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Adelphi University and a master’s in business administration.
Sophia B. Addo was born on 18 February 1965 in Kukurantumi, Ghana. She died at the age of 36. Sophia moved to the United States in 1996 after winning a Diversity Visa lottery. She was in a 15 month-old marriage with her husband, Joseph Ameyaw. She was an employee of the Windows of the World on the World Restaurant, working as a housekeeper.
In Ghana and all over the world, the September 11 attack is remembered for its direct and indirect impact which is still felt today.
Terrorism, which has since grown in various forms since September 11, 2001, has been regarded as a global threat, with Ghana standing at risk of an attack even though the country is yet to experience any.
In memory of the event, commemorations are held to recount the tragedy and honour those who died, especially in America where the attack occurred.
At a ceremony marking the anniversary held at the Pentagon, US President Donald J. Trump said the event is one that is seared in the soul of the American people.
“For every American who lived through that day, the September 11 attack is seared into our soul,” Trump said. “It was a day filled with shock, horror, sorrow and righteous fury.”
The president recounted how he learned about the news: “I was sitting at home watching a major business television show early that morning. Jack Welch, the legendary head of General Electric was about to be interviewed when all of a sudden they cut away. At first, there were different reports. It was a boiler fire. But I knew that boilers aren’t at the top of a building. It was a kitchen explosion in Windows on the World. Nobody really knew what happened.”
He extended a word of sympathy to the families of the victims.
“To each of you, the first lady and I are united with you in grief,” he said. “We come here in the knowledge that we cannot erase the pain or reverse the evil of that dark and wretched day. But we offer you all that we have: our unwavering loyalty, our undying devotion and our eternal pledge that your loved ones will never, ever be forgotten,” he said.
Earlier in the morning, President Trump and his wife, Melania, observed a moment of silence at the White House before heading to the Pentagon.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum also held a ceremony at the site of the World Trade Centre which was attended by the families of the victims of the attacks
Starting from this year’s anniversary, all schools in New York were required to hold a brief moment of silence.